Pirates president Frank Coonelly participated in his monthly live online chat with Pirates fans on Wednesday. During the chat, Coonelly answered questions about potential trades and signings, the status of the organization's top prospects, the future makeup of the Major League roster and more. The complete chat transcript follows.
Coonelly: Welcome, everyone, and thank you for joining me again this month. Let's get started.
cypro: Mr. Coonelly what do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the Pirates going forward, and how are you planning on addressing these issues in a timely manner?
Coonelly: cypro, we have many challenges facing the organization, but, the biggest challenge by far remains completing the building of a championship team in Pittsburgh. We have made tremendous progress on that front in the last 2 1/2 years but work certainly remains to be done. We are attacking that challenge on a number of different fronts, including our efforts to sign many of the highly talented players who we selected in the 2010 Draft, continuing to develop the young talent working its way to Pittsburgh currently in the system, continuing to identify and sign talented players in the international market and continuing to explore the trade market for opportunities to improve the club. Following this season, we will also explore the Major League free agent market.
3pirates3: What about John Perrotto's assertion that "if the Pirates worried half as much about winning as public perception then they wouldn't have to worry about public perception?"
Coonelly: 3pirates3, I didn't see that line from John but it surprises me if he, in fact, made that statement. John knows that all we worry about here is building a winning organization and every decision that we make is made to that end. In fact, we were criticized by others in the media for calling Pedro Alvarez up when we thought he was ready as a baseball player and did not announce four days before he was being called up that we had decided Pedro was ready to play in Pittsburgh, but we would not call him up for another four days because we wanted an opportunity to sell more tickets to his first game. The press does not always agree with our decisions, and they become particularly disagreeable during a 12- game losing streak, but the fans of the Pirates should know that our decisions are made for baseball reasons and not in an effort to sway public perception.
Bashers: Hi, Mr. Coonelly I am wondering when we are going to get serious about keeping are players in long term? It seems like they turn free agent and we say forget it, trade them and get young players that are not even ready to play.
Coonelly: Bashers, we are serious today about keeping winning players that can help us win championships for the long term. At the appropriate time, we will approach those players currently on the roster that fit that description regarding an opportunity to sign long-term agreements with the club. The part of our plan for success includes such a strategy but we must be selective. Many organizations, in various market categories, have hindered their ability to compete by burdening themselves with poor long-term contracts.
jm_bucsfan: Morton, Hernandez, Locke, Diaz, Strickland, Clement, Pribanic, Lorin, Adcock, Alderson, Harrison... All 'prospects' acquired last year, but do you really see anything there? So far, not so much.
Coonelly: jm_bucsfan, I could not disagree with you more that "so far, not much" promise has been shown by the players who you identified. Specifically, Jeff Locke, Josh Harrison, Nate Adcock are having outstanding seasons. Pribanic pitched five shutout innings last night and is starting to show why we were so high on him. Bret Lorin is just returning from a hip injury and remains an exciting player. Gorkys Hernandez has heated up over the last month and was recently named to the World Team in the Futures game. Tim Alderson has had his ups and downs at Altoona but has shown flashes of returning to a top prospect status. Charlie Morton is working his way back in Triple-A and continues to be a pitcher who we believe can be a productive member of our rotation in Pittsburgh. Jeff Clement struggled with the bat at the Major League level but we are not ready to give up on him yet either. If you look at the other side of those trades, you can quickly conclude that serious questions may be asked of our trading partners.
dogsjacob1: Mr. Coonelly, with Octavio Dotel potentially on the trading block, is Evan Meek being groomed to become closer, or will that opportunity be given to Danny Moskos?
Coonelly: Octavio Dotel is not on the trading block. We are fortunate, however, that both Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan have shown the stuff and fortitude to close games. Having options in that area certainly puts us in a position to entertain offers if another club is willing to overpay for one of our players. Danny Moskos has performed extremely well at the back end of the bullpen in Altoona and now at Indianapolis and is again showing the type of stuff to make you believe that he could be a closer one day as well. The talent that we have in this area could help us address needs in other areas.
gjs867: With our core offensive group coming together nicely, do you think we should pursue another power-hitter?
Coonelly: The young players who we have brought up this year are adding athleticism and energy to the club. Pedro Alvarez has added that "power hitter" that we have lacked. We foresee Pedro developing into that dangerous middle of the order bat that all clubs desire. Does that mean that we would not add another power hitter in this offseason, no. In reality, however, power hitters in their prime come at a very steep price either in the trade market or free agent market. Unlike American League teams, we are not in the position to add a pure DH like Vladimir Guerrero who was signed at a reasonable price by Texas during the last offseason.
cyredmond: How are the negotiations coming along with Taillon, Allie, Kingham, Kubitza and some of the other high school draftees and do you anticipate getting the majority of them signed?
Coonelly: cyredmond, we selected many high school players in this year's Draft. Typically, high school players do not sign as quickly as college players who may have fewer options. We are working hard to sign each of the high school players who you mention as well as the other players we selected in this year's Draft. We believe that we can sign a large number of these players and did not select any one of them simply as backup plans. Our intention is to add significant talent to the system from this year's Draft class, a class that favored right-handed high school pitching.
Coonelly: Last question for today...
gjs867: With Justin Wilson, Rudy Owens, and Bryan Morris tearing up AA, is there more of a reason to deal Maholm or Duke?
Coonelly: We are extremely excited about the entire starting rotation in Altoona but you are right that Bryan Morris, Justin Wilson and Rudy Owens, in particular, have been among the most productive starters in Double-A this year. Our optimism that these pitchers as well as other like Michael Crotta at Indy, Charlie Morton (Indy), Kevin Hart (rehabbing), and Tim Alderson and Jared Hughes at Altoona have a chance to be productive Major League pitchers in Pittsburgh does not make it more likely that we will attempt to trade Paul Maholm or Zach Duke. They do, however, give us many legitimate options for the rotation in Pittsburgh in 2011 and beyond.
Coonelly: Thanks again, everyone for joining me. I look forward to talking with you all again next month.